Today is grey. As it should be in April and at the end of this life era. I graduate from college in two days. I'm a college graduate. Almost.
I planned to write this many-party saga on this topic because I really do have a lot to say and words don't come as easily anymore. And perhaps I will if life allows because this graduation from what I've known to what is unknown is something I am having a strong reaction to. A surprising reaction at that.
I've been in school for 17 of my 21 years. And the four before my elementary career are hazy at that. I'm pretty good at memorizing things. I attribute that to my years in AWANA memorizing Bible verses. I never really did catch on to reading essays and text books and I've gotten by well at bs-ing my way through essays. My process of elimination has bid me well in multiple choice situations and I can tell the difference between T and F ok.
During my first year of college I was extremely overwhelmed with the phenomenon of a syllabus. With the knowledge of everything that had to be done during the semester, I felt I had to continually work until the work was done. That soon passed. And procrastination became a problem soon after. Studying for tests the hour before, writing papers the night before and handing them in without any editing.
I had high school down to a T. I was one of those kids who actually liked high school. College was a shocker at first but finally after about 3 years I was feeling comfortable in my own skin. I found a good rhythm.
College has been really, really great. And I'll expand on that at a later date. This year has been quite grandiose - engaged, got a husband, bought a house, got a real job, graduated, moved. I'm ready for all of that to start.
Being graduated and ending (not permanently though) my school-going career means a few things. One of those: Graduation means I can read again.
I read a lot in college. Things that I normally wouldn't pick up on my own like "The Sociology of Housework" and philosophical writings on oppression of genders. But now I can read again without feeling guilty (like I need to be doing homework or writing an article for the paper.) I can read books form my guilty pleasure authors Candace Bushnell and Lauren Weisberger who give me my fix of NYC. I can start on my summer reading list I accumulated a few months ago from an hour spent at Barnes and Noble. I can pick at the New Rivers Press books of poetry and short stories.
Graduation also means settling in. I can get the feel for a real job. I can have all my things at home in Washburn, instead of split between Fargo and never fully unpacking my suitcase. I can just be Scott's wife. We can think family.
Graduation means being a grown-up. And the big 'ol word that entails. Lovely, I'm sure. Up and down, swirly sometimes I'm also sure.
College opened up a lot of new worlds. And I'll write my appreciation to MSUM later. But I remember just being plain excited for life and everything I could be and do and become. And now that that bridge is done being crossed, I'm so excited to put all of that excitement into action.
Quiet: noun, absence of noise or bustle; silence; calm, verb, make or become silent, calm or still. New Oxford American Dictionary
Its snow globe snowing. You know, tiny white snow flake balls floating straight down, in no hurry. I haven't noticed in a while.
I used to spend a lot of time in coffee shops when I was a freshman in college. Mainly because I hated being in the dorms and always on campus. So I'd leave and spend hours in various coffee houses doing homework to the sound of whatever music I happened to be in the mood for.
I stopped doing that when I moved into my apartment. Suddenly making coffee at home was a great way to save the little money I had. But I lost something along the way.
Quiet solitude does something to a human soul. Pop culture has made us believe that college is this big hype of being busy and studying and parties and this big group of friends. You're doing college wrong if you don't have something going on every night of the week. If you don't stay at school over the weekend you're some kind of weirdo who goes home to mama too much.
We are a social species. We need human contact. We were made to love and be loved. But we don't have to love everyone. The internet and the Facebook generation have learned to say "I love you" to anyone who bids you a nice, kooshy compliment. We are loosing something.
I'm comfortable with who I am. I don't need approval from everyone anymore. I'm going to piss people off sometimes. And my college experience was spent meeting a few good friends and learning to appreciate the ones I already had. I spent a lot of time alone - I lived alone, I did homework alone, I'd even go to the occasional movie alone. I'm the freaky girl, right? Maybe. But solitude has formed me, quietness has left me to discover parts that are well-hidden.
And those times when I went home instead of staying to "hang out" with the random acquaintances of the week, it ended up allowing me to spend all the time I possibly could with my dad. Regret? Absolutely not.
I never would have considered myself busy because I know people who have a lot less free time than I. But here I am, sitting in this familiar old friend of a coffee shop and I'm remembering what it is like to be excited.
Now, I'm the furthest from pessimistic as you can get, but I've somehow missed this feeling of excitement for life, for tomorrow, for the floating snow flakes. And its because I haven't been quiet by myself for so long.
Facebook is great and fantastic but you're never really alone. We are constantly telling everyone where we are and what we're doing and reading that Jill "made a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and is watching Jersey Shore." Facebook is never silent.
I know life gets busy. And I know TV and the internet seem like great ways to fill the void in the time between work and sleep but what if the silence is the difference? The difference between holding onto that grudge to realizing how trivial is in the bigger picture. The difference between having a crappy day to seeing that when you throw it all together, it really wasn't that bad. The difference between the mundane and the joyous.
So take time to sit and just listen. Listen to whatever sounds may fill your ears. Listen to your kids playing in the living room, to your husband coming in from outside, to the refrigerator hum. Be quiet.
Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don't bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top. Psalm 37.7 The Message.
Human: (adjective) mortal, flesh and blood; fallible, weak, frail, imperfect, vulnerable, susceptible, erring, error-prone; physical, bodily, fleshy. -New Oxford American Dictionary
"You could have kept that to yourself," I was told. Don't bother anyone. Know your boundaries and stay in them. Don't divulge too much of yourself because too deep gets too uncomfortable too fast.
It seems these phrases are the code I've learned to live by; don't tell too much of yourself because people simply do not care. So as a little girl I learned such things through interpersonal relationships. I learned to read people, watch their body language, know when to stop. Know when the story gets dull, the anecdote runs dry, interest lost. It's easier, usually, to simply say nothing at all.
But we have a lot to say. We have opinions, desires. We've been taught to express, but to do so neatly. Use your imagination and color beautiful pictures, but stay in the lines. Write your story, please tell it to us in your own words, but you must structure your sentences correctly, punctuate. Sing your song, but stay on key, don't cuss. Tell us about your loss, but keep it light. Telling us to give the beautiful parts and keep the mess, no one wants to deal with that.
Well sometimes I just can't use comas and sometimes I don't finish my sentences, I hate capitalization and a swear word is sometimes needed. And sometimes I sing off key when I'm worshiping because I know Jesus doesn't care if I'm flat. The rules just need to be broken now and again and we need to be free.
Some of the best songs sing about sex and the heart-wrenching heartache of loss and neglect and pain. And they move us. They move us because they hit us somewhere inside in a place that was shut off because no one wanted to hear about it.
We are fallible and week, vulnerable. We need to talk about our losses so that we can make them real and understandable and not so scary anymore. We need to discuss our loves in life so we can appreciate them and indulge ourselves in them. We need to be vulnerable with each other so we can stop fearing what is in ourselves.
This past semester I was scraping for relevant credits and ended up finding a class that counted as one of my generals that had 1 out of the 80 seats open. It just so happened to be a class called "Issues of Death and Grief." I took the remaining open seat.
For those of you who don't personally know me, my dad, Jon Anderson, - my favorite person in the world - died in December in a vehicle accident. In January the class began. And some days I sat in tears, holding back sobs as we talked about the funeral business and cremation. Some days I would get so mad because of a naive comment from someone who had obviously not experienced loss. But I sat through the uncomfortableness and I discussed my feelings with the large group and at the end death was a few degrees less scary than it was before.
So what I'm trying to say is that there are things in our lives that are hard and taboo and scary and unaccepted by those around us. And our family and friends can be wonderful comforters and listeners and understanders but a lot of the time they also aren't.
So if you draw or take photos or create as a form of expression, get an account at www.deviantart.com and share your abilities with other people like you. If you have a secret you need to get out of you but you can't tell anyone else, send it to Post Secret (www.postsecret.com). Writer? Find a blog site and let it fly. However you dot it, get it out into the open. Lay it on the table and dissect it and discuss it and try to wrap your hands and heart around it.
"Sometimes the only honest, healthy, human thing to possibly do is to shout your question and shake your fist and rage against the heavens and demand an explanation. But the wisdom, the kind we find here with Job - the kind that endures, the kind that sustains a person through suffering - that kind of wisdom knows when to speak and when to be silent. Because your story is NOT over. The last word has NOT been spoken. And there may be way more going on here than any of us realize. So may you be released from always having to know why everything happens the way that it does. May this freedom open you up to all sorts of new perspectives. And may you have the wisdom to know when to say, "I spoke once, but now I will say no more."
-Nooma's "Whirlwind," (talking about the Bible story of Job) by Rob Bell.
We were all started somewhere. And I don't mean the birds and the bees or anything with such concrete and structural attributes. I mean the pivotal points in our pasts that we can sift out from the rest as the times we realized a little further of who, exactly, we are.
The day a father pats his young son on the back after he properly hooks the tractor up to the rake; he knew then that a farmer he would become. The stay in the hospital when the nurse said just the right words to the scared little girl who had just had her tonsils out; she realized that she could help others like that, too.
I am a writer. Obvious, huh? But I mean more than just a reporter or a journalist or a hobby poet. I am a writer. When life treats me well and I am joyous for the life God has given me, I write about it. When He takes things away from me and shakes up my world, I write. My mind is always reeling and observing and most of the time words get jumbled up and don't come out of my mouth right, but you give me a pen and any surface to write on then I will give you a picture of what my thoughts look like.
The other day I found myself in a situation in which affirmation flowed like rain and I knew I was doing the right thing, going down the right path in my life. I was seeing Jewel (country/folk singer) in concert at the Fargo Theater.
Now her and I have a little history; her CD was the first one I ever had, I checked out her book of poetry so much from the library in high school that Mrs. Anderson gave it to me for graduation, I have DVDs of her concerts, all her albums and books and I even read her blog and follow her on Facbeook. No, I'm not obsessed, I just admire her to no end.
So Jewel has been a source of inspiration, formation and admiration since the beginning; my own writings have been molded from hers. And I was sitting in the theater the other night, watching this woman who molded me without any knowledge of it, listening to her words that have become so familiar. I just stared at her. In that moment, everything was promised to be OK. I knew that a writer was the only thing I could be. I knew that these stormy times would pass me and a new normality would set in someday soon. I knew that where I was and what I was doing was exactly what was supposed to be.
I've learned that times like this are few and far in between and to just sit back and reel them in when they are presented. And thats just what I did. I put my pen and paper down, shut my camera off and just watched in awe of this women who so gracefully kept true to herself and to me for so many years and let her tell me that all is in place. Just as it should be.
"Did it ever occur to you that I'm behind all this? Long, long ago I drew up the plans, and now I've gone into action…" said Jesus. 2 Kings 19:25a